Selling Your Primary Residence: Section 121 Exclusion | Castro & Co. [2024]

Selling your primary residence can be a significant financial decision, one that requires careful consideration of the tax implications involved. Fortunately, there's a valuable tax provision that could help you save a substantial amount of money when selling your home: Section 121 exclusion. In this article, we will provide a high-level overview of Section 121 exclusion, explain the ownership and use test, discuss special exemptions, and highlight the importance of engaging a tax attorney from Castro & Co. to maximize your tax savings. We will also touch upon the unique considerations for overseas property owners.

What is Section 121 Exclusion?

Section 121 of the Internal Revenue Code allows individuals to exclude a portion of their capital gains when selling their primary residence. This exclusion is designed to provide tax relief for homeowners who have lived in their home for a significant period. Under Section 121, you can exclude up to $250,000 of capital gains if you are a single filer, and up to $500,000 if you are married filing jointly. To qualify for this exclusion, you must meet specific criteria.

Ownership and Use Test

To benefit from the Section 121 exclusion, you must pass the ownership and use test. This test has two key components:

  • Ownership Test: You must have owned the property for at least two of the last five years leading up to the sale date. This period doesn't have to be consecutive. It means that you need to have owned the property for a total of 24 months within the five-year window.
  • Use Test: You must have lived in the property as your primary residence for at least two of the last five years before selling it. Again, like the ownership test, this doesn't have to be continuous. It means you must have used the property as your primary residence for a total of 24 months within the five-year window.

Meeting these tests is crucial to qualify for the Section 121 exclusion. If you meet these requirements, you can exclude a substantial portion of your capital gains when you sell your home.

Special Exemptions

There are situations where you might not meet the ownership and use test but could still qualify for a partial exclusion. These special exemptions can apply in cases of unforeseen circumstances, such as a change in employment, health issues, or other events that necessitate a move before the two-year requirement is met. Consult with a tax attorney from Castro & Co. to see if you qualify for any of these exemptions.

Engaging a Tax Attorney to Maximize Tax Savings

Understanding the complexities of tax law, especially when it comes to the sale of your primary residence, can be overwhelming. Engaging a qualified tax attorney is essential to ensure you maximize your tax savings while staying in compliance with the law. Castro & Co.'s tax attorneys have the expertise and experience to guide you through the process, ensuring you meet all the necessary requirements and take advantage of every available exemption.

Our team can help you plan the timing of your home sale to maximize your exclusion, navigate special exemptions, and address any unique circumstances that may apply to your situation. With our assistance, you can confidently proceed with your home sale, knowing that you are making the most tax-efficient choices.

Overseas Property Considerations

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident who owns a primary residence overseas, you may still be eligible for the Section 121 exclusion. The ownership and use test can be met both for properties within the United States and abroad, but there are additional complexities to consider. Foreign tax laws and treaties may come into play, and it's crucial to consult with a tax attorney who is well-versed in international tax matters.

Castro & Co.'s tax attorneys are ready to assist clients all over the world, ensuring that you receive expert guidance on the Section 121 exclusion and any other international tax implications associated with the sale of your overseas primary residence.


Selling your primary residence is a significant financial decision, and understanding the tax implications is paramount. Section 121 exclusion offers substantial tax savings, but navigating the ownership and use test, special exemptions, and overseas property considerations can be complex. Engaging a qualified tax attorney from Castro & Co. can make all the difference in maximizing your tax savings and ensuring a smooth transaction.

When it comes to selling your primary residence, Castro & Co.'s experienced tax attorneys have the knowledge and expertise to guide you through the process, allowing you to make informed decisions that protect your financial interests. Don't leave your tax savings to chance—contact us today to discuss how we can assist you in achieving the best possible outcome when selling your primary residence, whether in the United States or overseas.

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Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial or tax advice. Readers are advised to consult with qualified tax professionals before making any financial decisions.

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